Ambassador Wu Peng: China most important trading partner to Sierra Leone’

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November 29, 2018

By Hassan Gbassay Koroma

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Participants at the China Forum 2018 at Bintumani Hotel

The Chinese Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Wu Peng, has stated that China is one of the most important trading partners to Sierra Leone, adding that in 2017, the bilateral trade volume between both countries reached $580 million of which China exported $240 million and imported $340 million.

Ambassador Wu Peng was speaking at the  Bintumani Hotel Conference Room on Tuesday, November, 27th during a forum facilitated by  the Sierra Leone-China Foundation on the topic “ Wok together with the Chinese Investment to Achieve Common Development and Build a Shared Future in Sierra Leone.”

He said in recent years, China-Sierra Leone relations have enjoyed a sound momentum of development in various fields.

The symposium, which attracted government officials, international relations experts, civil society organisations and stakeholders from the Chinese business community and media practitioners, was aimed at discussing China-Sierra Leone trade and economic cooperation from a reciprocal perspective.

The top Chinese diplomat in Sierra Leone disclosed that more than 3,000 Chinese  were working in the country and providing convenience to the local people’s daily life, as well as offering a lot of job opportunities.

Similarly, the Ambassador said private investments were seen in steady increase, among them the small-scale and medium-sized enterprises, which have injected vitality into local communities and offering daily necessities at an affordable price.

He said the event was in line with President Julius Maada Bio’s vision to attract more foreign investments to diversify domestic economy under his New Direction Agenda, adding that the forum was just in time and will shore up the foundation for furthering China and Sierra Leone mutual understanding and practical cooperation.

Ambassador Wu Peng said with the new government’s commitment to fight against corruption and diversify the economy would make the business environment becomes better and better.

He further stated that in line with President Bio’s development priority, he has put a lot of efforts in encouraging Chinese enterprises to invest in the agricultural sector, to help Sierra Leoneans with master planting methods to increase food yield.

“Sierra Leone is endowed with advantageous natural conditions and rich resources. Managed by good governance, the people of Sierra Leone can achieve food self-sufficiency and independent development eventually,” he said.

He observed that a shared prosperous future cannot be achieved without respect for the rule of law, thus noting that he would always advised Chinese business community in Sierra Leone to abide by the local laws and regulations.

The Ambassador continued that to help regulate Chinese companies operating in Sierra Leone and encouraging them to fulfil social responsibility, the Embassy has been working closely with the Chinese Chamber of Commerce as well as Sierra Leonean Ministries Departments Agencies (MDAs) to disseminate related laws and regulations.

He stated that they have been demanding Chinese investors to register with the Embassy upon their arrival in the country.

On his part, Sierra Leone Chief Immigration Officer, Andrew Jaiah Kaikai, said both countries have enjoyed bilateral relationship for the past decades and as well benefited immensely from the said ties.

He informed the Chinese investors  that the doors of Sierra Leone are open for business as long as investors coming into the country follow due procedures.

He expressed delight for the Ambassador’s making mention of the need for investment in the agricultural sector, which according to him, would be essential for the country’s development.

Assistant Director of Monitory and Research at the National Revenue Authority(NRA), Dr. Sheku Kamara, said Sierra Leone has a long standing relationship with China, for which the level of investment from China into the country has not only been the highest, but also visibly evident particularly in the mining, trade and infrastructure sectors.

He said there have been interventions into aid giving from China and that it was recently manifested in the contribution of the Chinese government during the Ebola outbreak and the construction of some roads and other developmental areas.

He said contemporary tax administration prioritises voluntary compliance as opposed to enforcement, adding it’s not only requires promoting self-assessment and declaration of  tax obligations, but also educating tax payers about  the systems.

He said the symposium was an opportunity for the NRA to educate the Chinese investors and businessmen in the country to understand the country’s tax system and be more compliant in the payment of their taxes to government.

Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) thanked the organizers for including them in such sensitive discussions, stating that both countries needed each other.

Speaking on behalf of the media, Deputy Editor of Concord Times, Alusine Sesay, thanked the Chinese Embassy for their contribution towards the development of the Sierra Leone media through the provision of short and long term courses for journalists in Beijing.

He also made mention of other goodies including the provision of media gadgets to various media houses by the Chinese Embassy in Sierra Leone.

 He urged Chinese investors to see the media as business and invest in it, thus further calling on them to see journalists as partners in development.

He canvassed them to open their doors to journalists whenever they seek clarification.

“I have heard you talked about agriculture, mining and the likes but I want you to also know that the media is business and we want Chinese investors to take advantage,” he said.